University’s intense training, develops nonprofit leaders

By Michael L. Jackson, director of marketing and communications, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Indianapolis

In the complex world of nonprofit management, today’s leaders must possess a unique set of skills in order to navigate the industry’s challenging landscape. Whether it’s working with board members, leading a group of volunteers, or competing for fundraising dollars, those charged with running the organization need a broad array of skills.

The Executive Education division of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) partners with The Fundraising School at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to provide leaders with the critical tools needed to run a successful nonprofit. Through the Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership program, the two schools have developed a four-course program that delivers intense training for real-world impact.

“Leadership of nonprofit organizations is pretty unique,” said Sara Johnson, director of Executive Education at SPEA. “One of the things considered when putting this program together was, “What specific skills like developing and assessing a nonprofit board of directors, do these executives need to have in order to lead that type of organization?’”

Classes in the certificate program are offered throughout the year and can be completed in person or online. In-person classes are held over two days (a Friday and Saturday) on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus. Online courses are completed during a four-week period.

The four seminars – Financial Analysis for Nonprofit Leaders, Nonprofit Management for the 21st Century, Program Evaluation for Mission Impact, and Strategic Planning and Nonprofit Leadership – are offered on a rolling basis and do not require prerequisites, giving students the flexibility to begin the program at their convenience.

“While someone could do the course work entirely online, we generally recommend that they complete at least two of the courses in the classroom setting,” Johnson said. “This program brings in participants from all across the country, and that opportunity to network and collaborate face-to-face has a big impact on the experience.”

One of Johnson’s favorite seminars is the strategic planning session where students learn to understand their own management style, which, she says, is vital when trying to develop a nonprofit board of directors.

“CEOs have to develop the acumen for developing their own boards and how to make sure they’re doing a board assessment and doing the things that make good boards,” Johnson said. “Understanding your management style helps you to be more effective with the board. If you go into a strategic planning session and you are aware of your own approach or own belief system, chances are you’ll make better progress and have greater outcomes.”

To learn more about the Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership, contact Sara Johnson or download The Fundraising School’s 2015 course directory.

MichaelLJackson Michael L. Jackson is director of marketing and communications at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at IUPUI. Jackson joined SPEA from the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI after a 20-year newspaper career. He received his MBA in Marketing from Butler University.


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